Rabbi Mark Shaftan
Congregation Ohabai Sholom
5015 Harding Road
Nashville, TN 37205
Dear Rabbi Shaftan:
We understand that you undertaking an upcoming bus trip on Sunday, October 27th to visit the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM), “A Sacred Journey of Understanding.” You are likely to be presented with Da’wah (proselytizing) by Imam Ossama Bahloul, who is an expert in it, trained at al Azhar University in Cairo, a bastion of Sunni Supremacism with deep connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Hassan al Banna, was an Egyptian teacher from Ismailia and an acolyte of Adolf Hitler. The MB credo is:
“Allah is our objective, the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader, Jihad is our way, and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations”.
Hardly peaceful, as attested to by the current violence in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East on the borders of Israel.
The Peculiar case of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
In June 2009, the Boston Jewish community, Massachusetts Governor Derval Patrick and former Boston Mayor Tom Menino welcomed the opening of the $22 millionIslamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) allegedly built with with funds from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Those allegations spurred a suit by the ISBCC in 2005, against several plaintiffs. They included The David Project and then founder Dr. Charles Jacobs, Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism,The Boston Herald American and Fox News TV channel WFTX in Boston. Jacobs went on to found Americans for Peace and Tolerance. The suit was dropped in 2007 by the ISBCC leaving the plaintiffs to foot $2.0 million in legal defense fees. ISBCC is controlled by the Muslim American Society (MAS), a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate.
The ISBCC sponsored a Mosque across the Charles in Cambridge. Among its attendees were the Tsarneav brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhor the perpetrators of theBoston Marathon Bombing. Another was Aafia Siddiqui aka ‘Lady Al Qaeda ‘ a convicted terrorist serving a term of 86 years for being an al Qaeda courier and financier. She was captured by US troops in Afghanistan in an attempt to kill them. She was a Pakistani scientist and distinguished graduate of both Brandeis and MIT. Another ISBCC attendee was an American Muslim pharmacist Tarek Mehanna of Sudbury, Massachusetts who was convicted in 2012 for providing material support for Al Qaeda and is now serving a 17.5 year term. He was involved in planning a Nairobi style mall attack in the US . Another ISBCC attendee and colleague of deceased Tamerlan Tsarneav, was Ibragrim Todaschev. Todaschev was killed by an FBI agent and Massachusetts state troopers in his Orlando, Florida home in May 2013. He confessed to perpetrating, along with the late Tamerlan Tsarneav, a ritualistic murder of three men in suburban Waltham, Massachusetts on 9/11//11; two of them were fellow Jews.
Now while Massachusetts Governor Patrick warmly welcomed the ISBCC Mosque opening in 2009, their current Imam, Suhaib Webb, an American convert and former Oklahoma convicted felon, was disinvited from the ecumenical service at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston the Friday following the Marathon Bombing on April 15, 2013. A substitute Imam not affiliated with the ISBCC and the Muslim Brotherhood replaced Sheik Webb at the ecumenical service.
ISBCC trustee Abdulrahman Alamoudi is serving a 23 year sentence in a Federal prison convicted of being in a murder plot against the Saudi King and laundering funds for Al Qaeda. Another trustee is extremist Muslim Brotherhood Egyptian ‘spiritual leader’ Yusuf al Qaradawi. He was caught on video extolling anti-Semitic hatred during a Cairo Tahrir Square rally in February 2011 after returning from exile in Qatar. Al Qaradawi was famously quoted as saying:
“Conquest through Da’wah [proselytizing] that is what we hope for. We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America! Not through sword but through Da’wah.”
Jamal Badawi of Canada, a former trustee of the ISBCC, was named as a un-indicted co-conspirator in the 2007- 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism trial in Dallas, Texas over the funneling of upwards of $35 million to Hamas, which is the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Badawi has been an enduring trustee of the Islamic Society of North America and CAIR. He was an attendee at the 1991 Philadelphia Summit of the American wing of the Muslim Brotherhood that created a master plan for subversion of America and spawned the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Badawi has some peculiar beliefs including wife beating and execution of apostates- more on that subject later. Badawi and fellow MB operative, Nihad Awad, Executive director of CAIR will be present for the”God’s Books “ program at the ICM on November 3, 2013. You might consider returning to ask them some pointed questions during the Q+A.
Some things to know about the ICM
As you planning to take busloads of your congregants to visit the ICM here are some things you should know about its leader Imam Bahloul, Shariah versus Jewish Halacha and what the Rambam Maimonides had to say about Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.
Imam Bahloul is a distinguished graduate who holds a Masters in Da’wah – the call to Islam- from the 1,000 year old Sunni al Azhar University in Cairo. He is a specialist in reaching out to unbelievers like you and your congregation endeavoring to convey a version of Islamic doctrine representing it as a religion of peace.
Given the turmoil in the Middle East doesn’t appear to be much evidence of peace or tolerance towards non-Muslims. Two things about the ICM and Imam Bahloul that you ought to know. During the controversy over the building of the ICM, we found with the assistance of Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism screen shots on the Facebook pages of a board member of the ICM, Mosaad Rawash. They contained tributes to leaders of Hamas, the late blind Sheik Yassin and Dr. Rantisi, both assassinated by the IDF. Further, when we sent Imam Bahloul and the ICM board in February 2010, a Freedom Pledge abjuring Shariah death fatwas for apostates, former Muslims, he refused to acknowledge it. When approached by a local group in Murfreesboro in the fall of 2010 to consider a similar pledge regarding Sharia Islamic law concerning apostasy, treatment of women and gays he once again refused an opportunity to sign it.
Now, Imam Bahloul has every right to practice his faith with his members of the ICM under the Freedom of Worship provisions of the First Amendment. When Ms. Deborah Lauter, director of Civil Rights of the Anti-Defamation League was asked about the ICM board member’s support for Hamas, she said it was “irrelevant”. What was important in her view was the ICM freedom of worship and ability under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 to build a mosque wherever they wanted. The ADL backed that up by filing an Amicus Brief in the Murfreesboro Chancery Court proceedings on behalf of its Interfaith Committee on Mosques.
What’s the difference between Sharia and Halacha?
Before we go further, Shariah is not the equivalent of Halacha. It’s not. It is a total system of law controlling every aspect of Muslim life.
Rabbi Jon Hausman of Congregation Ahavath Torah in Stoughton, Massachusetts is qualified to distinguish between the two. In addition to his Orthodox ordination, he also undertook study in Arabic and Qur’an doctrine at the American University in Cairo. He reads and speaks Arabic fluently in addition to English and Hebrew. He wrote an article for our publication, the New English Review,Halacha, Sharia and the Religious Acceptance of Constitutional Governance. Note what Rabbi Hausman said:
In theory, Sharia jurisprudence actually intended to be applicable to Muslims only. Christians [Jews] and other non-Muslims were supposed to be exempt from the provisions of the law; a provision that is not and has never been universally followed. Indigenous Christian and Jewish populations of the Middle East whose communities pre-dated the advent of Islam by centuries later were and are subjected to jizya and other punitive taxes and dissociative treatment. This is a result of their direct or indirect refusal to submit to Islam according the Qur’an and Hadith as applied today. Because in Islam, Religion is State and State is Religion. Islam is political, and is determined to conquer.
Is that the hidden agenda of ICM Imam Bahloul and his board despite their Abrahamic Faith narrative?
What did Maimonides warn Jews about the Prophet Mohammed and Islam?
I’m sure during your rabbinic training you read the commentaries of Maimonides. Perhaps you may be acquainted with his Epistle to fellow Jews in Yemen written in 1172 C.E. to Jacob ben Netan’el al-Fayyemi, who headed the Jewish community in Yemen:
“After him arose the Madman [ha-meshugga] who emulated his precursor since he paved the way for him. But he added the further objective of procuring rule and submission, and he invented his well known religion.”
Then there is this additional comment from the Maimonides’ Iggeret Teiman:
“Remember, my co-religionists, that on account of the vast number of our sins, G-d has hurled us in the midst of this people, the Arabs, who have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us […] Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase and hate us as much as they. Therefore when David, of blessed memory, inspired by the holy spirit, envisaged the future tribulations of Israel, he bewailed and lamented their lot only in the Kingdom of Ishmael, and prayed in their behalf, for their deliverance, as is implied in the verse, “Woe is me that I sojourn with Meschech that I dwell beside the tents of Kedar.” (Psalms 120:5).
Maimonides fled his native Cordoba during the era of the fanatic Berber Almohads who stormed across the Straits of Gibraltar to take over Al Andaluz in Muslim occupied Spain. The Almohads perpetrated some of the more heinous pogroms of Spanish Jewry. Thus, the myth of ” la convivencia ” that medievalists on the faculties of the Jewish Theological Seminary and your own Hebrew Union Seminary have perpetrated is a dangerous historical delusion. After all the Alhambra predated the Almohad occupation of Spain. Maimonides had no such delusions. Neither should you.
Remember the Firebombing of your rabbinic colleague in Nashville?
A final note about the problematic Jewish Muslim community relations in Nashville. A homegrown terrorists that impacted Tennessee was the unfortunate case of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, formerly Melvin Bledsoe. Bledsoe was a Muslim convert from Memphis who killed an Army recruiter Pvt. Andy Long in June 2009 at a Little Rock, Arkansas Mall as payback for fighting his brothers in the Muslim Ummah in Iraq and Afghanistan. Muhammad was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in July 2011. You may recall that Bledsoe/Muhammad had firebombed the home of an Orthodox member of the Nashville rabbinate, Rabbi Saul Strosberg of Sherith Israel in an attempt to kill Jews.
Then there was the incident captured on video at Vanderbilt U in a Q+A session with Dr. Ahwad Binhazim , part time Muslim chaplain who responded to a question about treatment of gays under Shariah:
Question: Under Islamic law is it punishable by death if you are a homosexual?”
Binhazim said, “Yes. It is punishable by death.”
We hope this letter might equip you for your announced trip with your congregants to the ICM this Sunday.
And author of The West Speaks